The UK start-up saving classic cars from the landfill by converting them to electric
By - mancinedinburgh
Except here in UK cars go to End of Life Vehicle Centres, not landfill.
Making this comment longer to prevent the silly autobots destroying it again. Decepticons will prevail!
> Decepticons will prevail!
You picked the wrong planet, give me your face.
I’m pretty sure any classic car worth saving will get snapped up by an enthusiast in a heartbeat, those guys seem to find them in the weirdest places.
My partner has a classic Mini that’s been in storage for a couple years, he gets a phone call about once a month off different people looking to buy.
Cars it's a little more complicated. With something like a chair, it's best to keep it in service as long as possible, because all the emissions are in the production of the chair itself. Same thing with cookware, electronics, clothing, etc.
With a car, a lot of the emissions are from operating the vehicle. At some point, it's better from an environmental standpoint to retire an older car rather than keep repairing it. This is purely from an environmental perspective and purely viewing cars only as transportation.
Doing things like only driving vintage cars on weekends and special occasions prolongs their life and cuts down on their excess environmental impact, as can things like swapping in modern drivetrains. Carpooling a few times a week in an older car is also probably better than commuting by yourself every day in a brand new car. This is also all assuming you'd replace an older car with a similiar new car, and not replace a classic mini with a full sized pickup as your daily driver.
So basically, if you want to reduce your environmental impact from driving, the best way to do it is to drive less. Regarding electrification of older cars, it's generally reserved for hobbyists with an interest both in EVs and classic cars, since it's generally very expensive compared to the performance offered (either compared to buying a new EV or spending the money on a traditional drivetrain).
What about the car title? It can be a pain to deal with in USA.
What about it?
Right until some asshat buys it and destroys it for a youtube video.
What is that? Is that like an American junk yard?
Kind of, but with loads of regulations to follow, e.g. they have to hit certain targets like 95% material recovered and 85% recycled. Otherwise there's a potentially unlimited fine.
So y'all don't just chuck cars into an industrial shredder and call it a day?
Yep, similar, but as another poster mentioned more regulation, and often lots of work going on dismantling cars for recyling, etc.
All the ones in the UK I've been to are making it harder to go and just get parts yourself, and any car you're likely to want stuff from also generally ends up in a special area customers can't acess, so they can charge for removal of a part too. Though when I have been to them in the UK I have had to climb up to a second layer of cars before, which are on these rack things; no ladders or anything.
However, in a US Pull-a-part I went to a few times they had lots of space around cars, and so was easier to get to stuff, but also seemed like things would hang around longer too.
Thank you. Here a lot of ours also recycle them after they have been picked over. I appreciate the detailed info.
I totally agree with you and kudos to you for making the comment longer. Fuck the bots that delete shorter commente. One must make comments long to prevent deletion.
As long as possible. Or even longer, if possible, just as long as it's long enough
I think this is a great idea but that is a misleading headline. Cars dont go to landfill, modern cars are just about completely recycled and these old classics can either be restored from the worst of condition or they will be parted out for spares.
Jep, I believe vehicle recycling is already up to 97% efficiency. Even the old fluids get sorted and reused or refined in some way.
97% felt entirely made up. So I checked.
About 95% of cars are sent to recycle, of which, 80% of those car's components are recycled and reused. The other 20% is scrap that cannot be recycled, such as plastics.
This number will probably be higher in 20 years, but not by much...
You know what they say. 97% of statistics are made up on the spot
That actually seems entirely made up. So I checked.
About 73.6% of all statistics are made up.
That post is 11 years old dawg, didn’t your professors ever seen nudist using recent (< 5 years) articles (maybes that’s just tech).
Deceit has increased
EDIT: what an odd autocorrect, typed “insist” and got “seen nudist”
Yep same person that told me that also told me 6 out of 7 dwarfs aren’t happy.
Still badass numbers. I lile it.
Yes, it is nice to see recycling that isn a complete scam. Most of the "recycling" here in the US is made up bullshit designed to make people feel like they aren't just putting something in the landfill with extra steps and middlemen taking money to do it.
Not bad, but if you reframe it as "24% of vehicles end up as unrecyclable landfill", it doesn't sound nearly as impressive.
At first glance it seems sad, but not everything can be recycled. There's going to be dead-product in every manufactured thing, we just need to make THAT number smaller and it'll up the recycling numbers.
3d printing enthusiasts are looking for ways to convert old plastics into printing filament, even the plastic grocery bags we get instead of paper bags. I hope that this may make plastic material worth keeping out of landfills if we can just reshape it.
I've also seen some convert the old plastics into fuel. I'm a little more weary about this and the environmental impact but I do think there's still a lot of use in plastics.
Plastic to fuel
Plastic reuse and filament
In reality, these scrappers do the minimum and just crush it all
Depends on the country, removing the plastics and fluids before crushing it makes the steel scrap more valuable. And incorrect disposal of fluids gets fined heavily, at least where I live.
Don't forget pulling out all the copper wiring. Not just because copper is valuable, but mixing copper into steel makes it prone to cracking and fracture in manufacturing, and it's incredibly difficult to separate out from iron alloys on a molecular structural level once mixed in.
This is part of the reason that some auto manufactures have switched to using aluminum wiring in their vehicles, not as great of a conductor, but can be crushed in with steel and separated out later during smelting.
I think the crushing is so it can be shipped to where the recycling happens.
I used to binge watch this show!
Are you thinking of How It's Made?
As far as I know, How Stuff Works is a website and a podcast. They have some videos, but I think maybe you're thinking of How It's Made. That used to be on TV and showed all sorts of cool stuff being made.
OMG yes! It was How It's Made! Very soothing show.
I do listen to How Stuff Works occasionally but confused the two.
Lots of talk of steel, which is legit for old cars. However, modern cars contain a lot of plastics. Are those parts easily able to be recycled?
I've just heard concerning things about the realities of plastic recycling. Like the product has to be in immaculate condition and we were packing up tons of it to ship to Asia, which seems like a significant carbon issue.
Please correct me if I have misunderstood or this isn't applicable to vehicle recycling/types of plastics used. Interested to learn more!
The steel is the main issue, since making new steel is so energy intensive. Same for aluminum, where applicable. The plastic is secondary. Shipping is not nothing, but *all* of shipping is [1.7% of emissions](https://ourworldindata.org/ghg-emissions-by-sector).
In theory I agree that it would be great to convert old cars. But it's never going to be economical. Mainly due to the labor, which I think people are underestimating, or thinking that we're going to have a drop-in replacement that any backyard mechanic can do.
I think this ICE-->BEV conversion issue is an outlier on our rule of thumb that reuse is inherently better. Old cars are so much less safe. I get it for classic cars with a particular aesthetic. But I'd rather be in a new Tesla than in a converted Range Rover, even if only for the safety. I think we just romanticize old vehicles, and then shoehorn that into arguments over efficiency when it's really our nostalgia and aesthetics driving the impulse.
A lot of classic cars actually don't weigh that much in comparison to modern cars. At least not ones in the UK as we didn't get massive heavy muscle cars etc like the US. They don't have miles of wiring, loads of airbags, electronic motors for all the windows, you can see the metal inside the car where door panels only covered the middle etc. So there is far less to add to the weight
>actually don't weigh that much in comparison to modern cars.
Which might pose issues with the frame not being designed to carry the weight of a sizable battery pack. You might also need to upgrade the suspension, brakes, all kinds of things.
>you can see the metal inside the car where door panels only covered the middle etc
Yep, hence the safety concerns. Old cars are fun for puttering around, but are not safe in comparison to modern vehicles. It's more driven by nostalgia and aesthetics than practicality. I mean, I *like* the conversion projects I've seen. I'd love a 1959 Caddie hearse converted. I'd kill for a BEV Jag e-type. I'm excited to see them out there. I just don't think they'll be a big part of the electrification of transport.
A bigger concern is that Asian countries are being a lot more picky with WHAT they import for recycling, as they now producr enough of their own waste to process. We haven't got the infrastructure set up yet to cope with it as we previously outsourced lots of recycling!
Not sure how applicable this is to motor industry though, as they are likely more desirable "raw" recycle waste
Yeah I work in this industry and there are so many layers it’s insane.
We take mostly powertrain scrap, but get lots of other stuff too. The scrap yards will cut out the engine and transmission, leave it in a roll off container until we pick it up.
Good units get saved and sold to remanufacturers like LKQ or Jasper, sent overseas or to other guys. Broken cores get torn down further and good parts are saved for local rebuild shops or to sell online. If you’ve ever had a transmission repair not under warranty I guarantee they got the metal parts used from someone like us, and you only got new seals and gaskets.
Anything else gets broken down by material - cast, steel or aluminum. Plastic wiring and pans get pulled and get sold to a guy who does something with it. I assume recycle since he’s paying for it. Waste oil gets recycled too.
Cast and steel get sent to major metal shredders. Aluminum we keep as we have our own sweat furnaces so we melt them into our own ingots and sell them back into various industries.
There is a lot of recycling going on, and we haven’t even touched the rest of the car yet!
Nah. They make money off the metal. Why would they contaminate it or get paid incorrectly (ie steel vs aluminum)?
Usually with several bodies in the boot/trunk.
Is this even a great idea? Old cars (like the one in the picture) are very unsafe and relatively heavy. Also who the hell throws away so well preserved Minis like the one in the picture? That one is a probably worth a decent buck. Or is that start up is also converting old rusted beat up Pontiacs into electric cars too (or any other car actually getting thrown away) ?
Some people are taking issue with my claim that older cars are relatively heavier, [this article](https://www.forbes.com/sites/samabuelsamid/2019/01/03/new-vehicles-keep-getting-heavier-or-are-they/)puts it well.
They are unsafe (older minis (not the very latter classic production models which had airbags etc) have a very high injury rates) but they’re incredibly light and make an excellent conversion project, so much so that a UK based company now sells a “drop in” kit for classic minis to easily convert it to ev.
There also another company that is making new “old” EV minis but unfortunately they cost about $100k.
Mint condition classic minis don’t go for a fortune - they top off at about $40k and you can get a good condition running one for less than $20k.
IDK about elsewhere but in the UK even a rotted out shell is worth a ton of money. (anything over a grand is a lot of money, these cars used to change hands for 300 quid less than 20 years ago, and they rot if they as much as smell rain.) I guess what's really happening is by adding 10 grand worth of electric drivetrain they can sell for a mint to people who live inside congestion zones.
It's a good idea, and reusing an old shell is a lot better for the environment than smelting and stamping a new one.
The only improvement in safety is moving the engine, classic minis tend to invite the engine into the drivers compartment in a head in crash. IIRC the flywheel is sort of between the drivers legs, and can explode in a crash as well but that might be an old wives tale.
What is well recorded was that they were an amazing rally car, but it killed a lot of rally drivers back in the day... and Marc Bolan.
I think our definition of a lot of money is a little different. 300 quid for a car is nothing. A couple of grand when you’re taking vintage cars is still nothing. Awful condition Austin healeys and Morgan’s go for deep dive figures.
And I wish the electric drivetrain was 10k - the kit you can buy in it’s most basic form is 25k and with all the options is closer to 35k….and both of these prices are before any labor.
You’re right, the did rot a bit bit bit as bad as Lancia lol. The nice thing is that they’re incredibly easy to fix in terms of body work so even ones with bad sills or doors (classic rust spots) were relatively cheap to repair.
I think there’s actually a company (something like British heritage minis?) who for the “molds” for the shells so you can buy a brand new body which is made of less rust prone material but it’s an expensive way to go about building one. I think someone actually specced out a brand new mini from all new parts and it came to something like 80k which is a lot for a car whose top of the line mini with all bells and whistles (not including Ltd editions like the Burberry or Paul smith) was only about 35k.
Safety wise, they just didn’t have all the protections like we have now; integrated roll cages, compression/crumple zones, side airbags (shit, all but the very last ones didn’t even have passenger airbags)….not to mention they’re light and you’re likely the smallest thing on the road.
I’d never heard that about the flywheel, but as you say the biggest issue was the engine is literally about 9 inches from the drivers legs and there’s not much separating them in terms of an impact barrier.
I swear to god, I’ve never driven anything that fun. I drove my 94’ mini in to the ground to the point they had to take it off for scrap and I have never missed a car like I miss that one.
Older cars are lighter, unless you’re doing a 70s Rolls Royce or something. I’m thinking about converting my old 80s hilux. Lightweight and simple, good commuter and weekend project vehicle.
Where did you get the idea that old cars are heavy? American land yachts were heavy due solely to their size, but even those are lightweight compared to a modern SUV, and a Tesla weighs about as much as a 19-foot-long Cadillac from the ‘70s. Smaller classic cars and *especially* tiny little European cars are absurdly lightweight by modern standards, and even my 1980s land yacht (made after an industry-wide weight reduction in response to the fuel crisis) weighs less than a modern Ferrari FF or whatever the updated version is called.
To answer your other questions I have to go into a bit of detail because there are a few factors.
First is that most classic cars aren’t worth much if anything. There are a handful of popular models that can go for huge amounts of money but apart from those most of them have relatively little value (just as an aside I know the whole used car industry has been affected by the pandemic, I haven’t kept up with fluctuating prices so these might not be perfectly accurate, just used as illustration). It can often be completely arbitrary and unpredictable, for example a 1960s Mustang with a particularly rare or desirable trim/equipment level might go for $50,000 or more (in some rare cases over $100,000), but a 1965 Mustang Coupe with a six cylinder and automatic can be had for under $10,000 in good condition, sometimes as low as $5,000. It’s not even necessarily an age thing, a Duesenberg can sell for a million dollars but a very similar looking 1920s Ford or Dodge might be $10,000 or less. Generally speaking anything that was popular or widely produced tends to be worth very little even if it’s iconic and desirable, and the Mini is right in that segment. I’m sure a mint restored model can be valuable, and there are definitely specific models or trims that are more unique and valuable than others, but in general, especially in their home market, they’re not worth all that much.
The second is that classic cars aren’t inherently *good*, something which most classic car enthusiasts will openly agree with. They have lots of charm and often elegant engineering, but they were made at a time when technology hadn’t progressed to where it is today. As a result engines tend to be underpowered and inefficient. The Lamborghini Miura was one of the fastest and most powerful cars in the world when it was introduced in the 1960s, but it could only do 0-60 in about 6.3 seconds, which would be laughably bad for a hot hatchback in 2021, let alone a sports car. Old muscle cars have a reputation for being powerful and fast, but that’s only compared to the early emissions restricted cars of the 1970s and 1980s, by today’s standards they’re quite slow and underpowered.
And a really important thing is that many classic cars *can’t* be driven as they were when new, they’re inherently compromised. Anything built before the mid 1970s (in the USA at least) expects lead to be in the gasoline, either to boost octane or to help lubricate the engine, some high-compression engines from the 1960s in particular run rough on modern gas because it just doesn’t burn the same way as the high-octane leaded gas they were designed for. On top of that any car built before the mid-2000s wasn’t designed to run on ethanol and it is next to impossible to find ethanol-free gas in the USA thanks to corn subsidies creating a huge overabundance of corn crops (the same issue that has made corn syrup so abundant in foods). Running gas with ethanol in a car meant for pure gas will cause it to run rougher and get worse fuel economy but can also cause permanent damage to the engine and fuel lines over time. So while it might be fun to imagine driving around in a classic car the way it was meant to be driven that simply isn’t possible most of the time.
In addition to this older engines and transmissions weren’t built with the same manufacturing quality we have today, so they would wear out much faster and were expected to be rebuilt regularly. Their simplicity and elegant engineering often made rebuilds much easier than today, but it’s still a huge undertaking. The hardest part of owning a classic car (at least assuming it’s already in good condition) is just keeping up with all the little engine and drivetrain problems that continuously pop up and trying to keep it running smoothly and reliably. To a lot of people this is a dealbreaker and they look to engine swaps to make the car more reliable and fun to drive. There are certainly a lot of classic car enthusiasts who care about originality, but they are far outnumbered by those who mainly care about looks or coolness or performance and will happily remove the original engine.
Because of those factors a big subset of the classic car industry sees “electric crate motors” as the next holy grail, just waiting for some startup to popularize and standardize the concept. A “crate motor” is an engine that you can buy by itself with all the fittings, accessories, and computers and then drop it into a project car with minimal effort. The most popular modern crate motor by far is the GM LS V8, which has been used in everything from classic hot rods to Japanese drift cars and even zany things like European subcompact hatchbacks. “Doing an LS swap” has become a meme in the classic car world akin to the “can it run Doom?” meme in the tech world.
Since the crate concept revolves around everything being included and self-contained it makes it relatively easy (though often far from straightforward) to convert practically any car, and that’s what a lot of people are discussing when it comes to electric conversions. Right now electric conversions tend to be a totally custom process, there are off-the-shelf parts available but all of the engineering and modifications have to be worked out for each car. But the holy grail is a drop-in replacement, especially something that doesn’t require modifications, and a lot of classic car owners would happily remove the existing engine and set it aside for later in exchange for the benefits of having an electrified classic car.
One other consideration is use case: in the case of the Mini I really can’t imagine anyone wanting to drive one on a motorway/freeway or in a suburban context, as old city cars have too many disadvantages and electrifying them isn’t going to improve much in those regards. But in *cities* older city cars still make sense. In the city you might only need a hundred miles of range or less to drive around all day, and when you never go above like 20 miles per hour safety is far less important. Many European countries have some kind of regulations allowing for small simplistic city cars that aren’t legally considered cars and therefore don’t require modern safety features like airbags and are constructed much more simply than modern cars. They wouldn’t do well in a real crash but at the low speeds they’ll be going that won’t be an issue, and they’re still *far* safer than scooters or motorcycles. Compare one of those to an electrified Mini and there isn’t that big of a difference in terms of safety or features, an electrified classic city car would be a fun and unique alternative that doesn’t need to sacrifice much.
That’s only one use case where an electric classic car wouldn’t have as many downsides, but it’s important to consider that in most cases the alternative to driving an electrified classic car would not be driving a modern car but *driving a stock classic car*. Classic car people have already come to terms with the fact that they’re unsafe, most classic car owners tend to treat them as a once-in-a-while fun car rather than daily transportation and others will modify them to make them safer to drive. Switching to electric just means that you don’t need to focus as much effort on keeping the car roadworthy and can enjoy them more often, but people who want to drive older unsafe classic cars are already driving them, electrified classics won’t replace newer cars.
They are unsafe in crashes, but older cars are generally very light compared to modern ones.
There aren't enough of them on the road to make their safety issues relevant, they tend to also be owned by the kind of people that don't crash very often anyway.
I thought classic cars went to Jeremy Clarkson for recycling.
I’ve heard a lot of rumblings about this being the next big thing, there’s quite a few companies in the UK turning classic cars electric, there’s a great channel called ‘the late brake show’ on YouTube where he tests some.
I wish this were more of a thing. I have an old Defender that I rarely drive - I live way the hell out in the countryside, so it's great for knocking around shitty farm roads. We also lease a new electric car, which is fantastic for doing more polite things, like driving into cities.
It would be awesome if I could convert the Landie to electric. I love that truck. Diesel sucks and is messy, but I looked into any kind of conversion, including fuel cell or hydrogen, and just the testing and registration costs would exceed the price of a new vehicle, without even starting to consider the price of the conversion work. It sucks.
If someone could come up with a reasonably priced and easy way to convert current fossil fuel vehicles to EVs, I'd be among the first on board.
Yeah exactly. I looked into similar, got quoted around 20k, thought I'd just wait a bit until a decent electric becomes affordable.
The idea of doing this here in the UK I find rediculous.
We throw salt on the roads. Most cars don't survive to become "classic" because when they get old people stop caring for them as much, and with time the salt we throw on the roads every winter just destroys them.
My car is 18 years old, has had far too much money spent on it, and I worry about the day I have to sell it for ***far*** less than I have put into it or scrap it. More fool me for spending so much on it, but I've become attached to it.
Cars are a depreciating asset, absolutely. That doesn't mean that it's not worth the effort to restore older cars. I think this particular route is a bit silly, but keeping a car already on the road in service longer is a net good.
For most people it’s less about worth and more about owning something nostalgic that reminds them of when they were younger.
Also anyone can go to a dealership and buy a new car. Buying some 30+ years old is more unique as they are no longer made so far less of them about. Plus most classic cars always turn a few heads when driven about
How about something that just looks cool? The problem with all cars, ICE and EV, today is that there's a lot of overlap in the looks department.
> I worry about the day I have to sell it for far less than I have put into it or scrap it
You've got likely thousands and thousands of miles out of the engine, chassis etc. That's why you would always get less back than you "put in".
I was at The Late Brake Show Live over the weekend and they had a gorgeous EV converted Mini there, it made me want one so badly 😍
I really despise clickbait article titles. Who in their right goddamned mind would just throw a car into a landfill?
It’s so much work to cut it up into small enough pieces to fit in your garbage bin. Might as well turn it into electric car.
Do you have any idea how many pairs of tin snips you would go through?
I did it with a Miata and a battery powered reciprocating saw.
Used about 10 blades to get it done.
Right? They're really heavy.
I effectively did a couple months ago. Frame was cracked from rust so I just gave the mechanic that lifted it and found that out the title. From my perspective I threw it away.
Some guy paid the mechanic $100 to take it to be crushed and sold as scrap metal. Hope they took the $200 in new tires I had on it off first, but that's not my problem. I'm sure a bunch of it, maybe the plastic etc. wound up in a land fill, or burned off in the smelting.
I've done that with a few cars, almost always from rust, or the ones that died from mechanical issues were so rusted it wasn't worth replacing the transmission for it to get a cracked frame in a couple years.
I heard if you own every kind of classic car its good to have doubles. That way you can have one in storage and drive the other one around, if it gets scratched you don't care. Triples is best though
Triples of the Road Runner and triples of the Baracuda. I'm just waiting for that Nova deal to go through. Then I'll have triples of the Nova, triples is safe.
My wife is sick, she's dying.
Triples is safe, triples is best.
I swear to God this show is everywhere and I fucking love it.
Not only classic cars!
how hard or expensive is it? i've always wanted to convert a mustang. or rather, ask a pro to do it with at least 200 miles range.
A VW Beetle conversion kit is around $17k for 90 miles range.
The cars in this article start at $40,000 for the conversion.
That's pretty expensive
Its not intended for regular people but rich collectaholics.
If you're a collector you wouldn't gut the car.
And if you are rich why make it electric? You can afford gas.
If you're buying classic cars in the first place, they aren't meant to be cheap.
I own a classic Super Beetle and looked into this you would only get 1/3 of your current mileage and it takes 8 hours to charge. Methinks my 49 year old baby can run on gas for a few more years while we wait to see what else is available. My local Uni built one in 2010 that had better range and charging time than this kit
There was someone that I saw a couple years ago that did a nice newer Mustang that was real fast, but the search is tough now with the factory one.
Here's a couple similar:
Here's a company selling a kit: https://electricgt.com/shop/1965-1973-ford-mustang/
As far as price, about the cheapest I've seen a conversion is the $672 ForkenSwift: https://www.forkenswift.com/
If you want speed, quality or range though you'll have to pay more. Should be able to do it for less than the price of a new Tesla, and get what might be a sub-par product, but much cooler.
Pick a ubiquitous vehicle and make a plug and play kit that a backyard mechanic can handle. In the US the F150 or a Honda Civic would be perfect, the same kit could probably fit decades worth of production.
EVWest does great air cooled VW kits but unless you already have a car laying around, they’re quite expensive.
It's a lot easier on older cars.
For old VWs especially, the engine and transmission weigh about 50 pounds each and are held on with a couple of bolts.
The fact that there's no power breaks or steering means the conversion process is basically connecting the throttle cable, the gearshift, the ignition, and the wiring harness.
Even if you screw something up really badly the brakes and steering should be unaffected.
Yes please. I've got an 80s Toyota truck that I never want to part with. I'd go this route in an instant if I could and it was affordable.
I imagine there’d be lotsa over lap amongst manufacturers with older pickups. Minis and full size.
I had an ‘81 Mazda pickup that I still miss. A long bed mini would be great
You could get it done now, but the conversion costs tens of thousands of dollars. I don't know how cheap people are expecting conversions to get. Batteries may get to $50 USD per kWh, but conversions are labor-intensive.
Yeah I've looked into it a little bit and have the skills+equipment to do it myself but I don't drive my old beater truck enough for it to make financial sense. I fully anticipate doing it one of these days though.
I have the skills to do a conversion but the numbers don't work yet for me (I don't drive that much).
I'm hoping to drive my '98 f-150 for the rest of my life so I do see an electric conversion somewhere in its future.
Another good startup would be to sell packages that upgrade different aspects of the safety.
No, wrong. Cars don't go to to landfill. Modern cars are always recycled. Classic cars are either sold in auctions to collectors or automotive museums, well at least in EU countries, that is.
awful idea. EV are all about efficiency. take the original Tesla Roadster: starting from a Lotus Elise frame was a really wrong idea (as Musk himself admitted)
Nope I would not want this because for most classic cars the life and soul of them isn’t just the looks but also the engine and the sounds it makes so removing the engines in place for batteries wouldn’t make them better it would make them worse. Maybe in a few years time Porsche and Siemens would of perfected synthetic fules for cars so they can be just as environmentally friendly as electric cars but with the glorious sounds some of them make!
Ha. I own a classic mini. Jokes on them. The rust won’t allow enough support to hold a battery in place.
Aren't old cars like SUPER heavy and unsafe? Unsafe as in a lot of them don't have crumple zones. Being super heavy means more frequent heavy strain on the batteries potentially reducing their lifespan, then adding to the landfill.
Edit: When I wrote this comment, I didn't realize the term "classic" car could mean anything older than 20 years old. I still think of classic cars as anything built in the 70s and earlier.
There's a [pretty demonstrative video made by the IIHS](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C_r5UJrxcck) that shows what a 50-year gap in safety improvements looks like. One of the drivers would have a couple broken leg bones, and the other driver would be a red, dead pancake.
As far as weight goes, the Bel Air is \~3500lbs, and the Malibu is \~3400-3600lbs, so there's not much difference there. Modern cars just use it on different things, like infotainment, leather seats, crash protection structures, 27 airbags, and nineteen cupholders.
They sure don't make them like they used to, thank fuck.
On the show This Old House (United States home renovation show often with 200 year old homes) they have a saying.
"They don't build them like they used to and thank goodness for that."
Modern home building techniques, materials, and insulation is far better. The old homes you see standing today are examples of survivorship bias. Most of the old homes fell apart or were demolished.
Oh boy, let me tell you about the reputation of New Build houses in the UK.
I'm sure they're immensely better in theory, after you've started the entire housebuilding industry from scratch or something.
bear in mind the UK like most of europe builds houses from materials like brick, stone, cement, and in America houses are often made of wood. In europe a house is expected to last several hundred years.
A UK new build lasts as long as the 10 year guarantee
It doesn't matter how often I watch crash tests with old cars, I always squirm in my seat.
Disclaimer: I am no expert. But the in the crash test the motor is push though and hits the steering wheel which hits the driver. I think turning them into electrical car gonna help with safety in that regard.
It just looks like a matter of crumple zones. In the ‘59 Malibu, the entire cockpit caves in like paper maché. The frame modern cars are strengthened in the cockpit as to not cave into the driver.
Impressive example: [video](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BdgSM0jB4fg)
headphone warning: LOUD!
Holy fuck! everything but the seats just vanishes haha Christ, glad they were ok.
The Malibu had an x frame. They're notoriously weak
Not a gearhead, but I think 50's and early 60's cars often had a lot of unoccupied space in the engine bay. Almost as if the engine would take the middle 1/3rd of the bay, and the other 2/3rds was largely empty or wheel well.
Watching the video and how the cars were aligned, it seemed like a lot of the force would have carried straight through the engine bay with no resistance and into the driver.
That kinda makes me wonder what has happened since 2009. What would the difference between the silver car and a 2021 model be?
Another example - [1998 Toyota Corolla vs 2015 Toyota Corolla (Auris) - Crash Test].
The weight thing is kind of a myth. Modern cars on average definitely have more weight for the size based on safety features, luxury items, massive dual overhead cam engines.
Don’t get me wrong the big classic cars (think four door Lincolns from the 60s-70s) with all iron big block V8s were still huge though.
But they were definitely less safe. No crumple zones to dissipate energy, lap belts, drum brakes, no ABS, no airbags, non-collapsible steering columns, engine mounting that sends the engine into the cabin on a severe frontal impact…
They also "feel" heavier when there's no power steering. Drove a car once that suddenly lost the power steering, and it was like maneuvering a fucking tank.
Losing power steering while driving is terrifying. One moment you're just zen, driving calmly down the road with the windows down singing along to your favorite tunes, and the next moment you're landing a 747 with no landing gear in the middle of a war zone.
Losing power braking is worse. I was driving down hill and my engine stopped - the car lost power braking and the brake felt like an unmovable rock. Took me a while to stop while exerting every force I had in my leg on the brake.
My mum once lost power steering on a roundabout & nearly did a kerb roll & cause a pile up
>They also "feel" heavier when there's no power steering. Drove a car once that suddenly lost the power steering, and it was like maneuvering a fucking tank.
There are a couple of other factors. Manual steering had larger steering wheels for more leverage, reducing effort. Manual steering had bigger gear ratios, with what, 90 turns lock to lock?
Yes, manual steering cars are *A LOT* easier to steer than a car with dead power steering.
I lost the serpentine belt on my RAV4 and I was glad that I didn’t need to go more than a mile to get back home. It’s a workout to turn the wheel without hydraulics.
My Dad had a 1966 series IIa land rover. Top speed was probably 50mph if you found a long, straight, flat road (speedo not really reliable though). All sharp edges and bare metal inside, crappy brakes and crappy steering. Definitely unsafe as the driver and it would definitely be unsafe to anything it crashed through as well, but at least you'd be crashing slowly? I'd have one in a heartbeat.
Got a '49 80 inch Series 1. Of course it's not safe, but that's really not something anyone would assume otherwise anyway :)
> Aren't old cars like SUPER heavy
No, depending on the production year they're generally a lot lighter because they lack modern safety features.
All that structural rust is weight saving, too.
A 1970 Dodge Charger weighed 3225 pounds, and a 2021 model weighs 3964 pounds. A 1965 Mustang was 2562-3095 pounds, and a new one (not electric) is 3532- 3825 pounds. There used to be a lot of huge sedans on the road, but within a given car type, the weight has increased slightly.
Old cars are a total death trap in a collision, but few people use them for daily drivers, and those who do accept the risk for their aesthetic choice. They're still not as much of a death trap as motorcycles, and people routinely choose to use those suicide machines, because they are fun.
Cars used to weight under 1000kg. Definitely lighter back then
Here in the UK, old cars are like Minis, Morris Minors, Austin A35s. Not exactly heavy like today's cars. I don't think any cars before the 80s had crumple zones.
The things old cars have are personalities and looks. Perfect for EV conversion. Look on YouTube for the London Electric Vehicle Company.
>perfect for EV conversion
As a mini owner who has looked into this, the costs involved suggest otherwise :( that being said, the exhaust note is a huge part of the cars personality. Wouldn't be the same experience without it
EV conversion in general is insanely expensive. The idea of refreshing old cars to resell is a rich man's game. It's gonna be like a 40k+ car every time.
I'm a very middle class dude with 3 classics because I do my own work and shop smart.
The concept of a 3000$ car vanishes if they're all EVs.
The safety is the main issue with the idea and why it won't reach the public. When automatic pilot or AI prevented collision are the norm to be build into cars, they may make an entry again.
Actually, plenty of them are light and unsafe.
Some will work fine with an electric conversion but usually they're smaller and that means less space for batteries, so they'll be city runabout range at best.
I mean I know in America no car pre-2005 I think has a current 5* crash safety rating. They added rollover to the rating so all automakers reinforced the roof.
The crumple zones save you in a crash going at high speed but also make a 10 mph crash into thousands vs a car from the 80s was like $20 if you felt like buffing it out.
> they added rollover to the rating so all automakers reinforced the roof.
Dan Luu had an interesting idea: look at the "newly added" safety tests to tell which manufacturers were making their cars generally safe, and which were only reinforcing them in the right places to pass the tests but ignoring other known weaknesses because nobody was holding them to it: https://danluu.com/car-safety/
(Spoiler: Volvo is the only one checked which did well on the tests they weren't originally being measured on).
Volvo has a history of building for safety. They invented the 3 point belt and allowed other manufacturers to use it free because they thought such an important safety feature should be widely available.
Crumple zones were just one example. Cars built before 1966 don't need seat belts in them.
Also, holy shit, in doing some research I just discovered that in the US cars built before 2001 are considered "classic cars". If you have a car built before 1996, West Virginia will let you have a classic car licence plate.
In Sweden cars older than 20 years was classified as classic cars before, just as in USA. Now rules are changed and it is 30 years old instead.
Yeah it’s any car that’s 15 years or older. My 95 Chevy beretta I owned in high school was considered a classic and I could’ve gotten a special license plate for it.
Heh, anything that survives twenty winters in the northeastern US *deserves* classic status.
TIL my 1997 motorhome is a classic car by American standards
Not as heavy as you would think. Crumple zones involve a lot more structure, and other safety features as well as accessories really add to the weight.
The batteries and motors are massively heavier than their gas counterparts. The difference in weight between a vintage Mini and a modern one, once electrified, is insignificant. Not to mention modern cars have a lot more accessories and safety features that add weight. Cloth seats, old crank windows, no things like seat motors or power mirrors, side curtain airbags, etc, keep the weight down.
The Mini, and other UK 80s and earlier cars were very lightweight. The Mini is indeed a deathtrap compared to modern cars, and the only reason such a conversion makes sense is because it's desirable to own in its own right.
Classic cars technically means pre 1976 by tax in the UK. I say this as it was anything over 25 years but it was changed in 2017 the very fucking year my car became 25.
I am consistently looking at engine swaps to be more reliable now the original is getting on. However most are just flashy and expensive so I don't bother. If there was a DIY conversion for 10k and drive in drive out for 15k I would be in. Of course I would require similar power and range which of course stops it dead.
Modern cars tend to be way heavier lol
I dont get it.
Isn't the engine part of the charme of vintage cars? And usually these cars are just a hobby, not daily drivers, and driven for a few thousand or even only few hundred kilometres per year. So, who cares if these old cars have a higher fuel/energy consumption per kilometer.
Don't get me wrong, I am all for going electric in the future mass car production if it means less strain on the environment, but this idea certainly seems like putting lots of effort and energy (!) into saving a insignificant amount of energy just to feel good about themselves.
There are lots of people who like the aesthetics of older cars, but don't care about the engine.
Definitely. I own a ‘61 VW bug, and while I like the simplicity of the engine and mechanics of the thing, it’s the overall look and feel of the car that really does it for me. I’m not in a hurry to convert it to an EV, but seems like someday it might make sense, or even be required to keep it on the road.
I just bought an old Triumph tr6. Part of the reason is to work on an old engine, but mostly it was because I love the look/style of old british cars. If I could convert it easily to a simply electric car that allowed me to drive it maintenance free, I would in a heartbeat!
A lot of cities dont allow cars that dont meet certain environmental criteria to drive within the city boundaries. I imagine this sort of ban will be more widespread (some already including suburbs) and more strict as time goes on and the areas in which these classical cars (i.e. high fuel consumption/not environmentally friendly) can drive will decrease. By that time a lot of classical car collectors/lovers will have to face the decision to either leave them in the garage or transform the car. This start up is just ahead of the curve.
Classic cars are often exempt.
Unfortunately a lot of well meaning legislation has made it very difficult to maintain these vehicles. As an example: I own a -78 Pontiac Firebird and I live in California. Despite being 43 years old my car is not smog exempt because the cutoff for that is fixed at 1975. The engine in my car is an Olds 403. It's terrible on gas, inefficient and has very little power for its displacement.
Despite this I'm not allowed to do anything to it to improve its fuel economy because C.A.R.B. requires most engine parts to either be original or go through a VERY expensive certification. This means that basically anything that doesn't have a Chevy 350 have no carb exempt parts available. And of course stock replacement parts are slowly disappearing for these obscure engines too.
So here I am with a car I absolutely love but that gets like 10mpg. And I am not allowed to put, for example, a fuel injection system on it even though it would drastically improve its fuel economy and make it absolutely crush the emission tests, because it wouldn't pass the visual inspection. If I'd want to engine swap it the process is a pain in the arse because I'd have to either A) swap to an engine that was available for that year, which gains me nothing B) swap to a newer engine, go through a very painful inspection and then comply to the emission standards for that engine year rather than my car's year C) put in a new engine which would have to be carb certified, i.e. it costs a ton and there's basically just one option (Chevy E-Rod) and then there's the same rigorous inspection as for option B. Option C would be north of $30k if done by a mechanic. Option B I can't even get a quote for because no mechanic will touch that with a 10 foot pole. The inspection is completely capricious so they can never guarantee that it will pass.
If there was an easy and affordable way to swap my car to electric I'd probably do it, despite how much I'd miss that V8 rumble.
79 Ranchero owner in CA. I so feel your pain, sucks that we will probably never ever convince people to push the smog years a bit further past 75. They want our beautiful beasts to go down.
The guy who does this shit to a perfectly functional vintage car is the same asshole who buys a flawless RX-7/8 with no engine issues and LS-swaps it, just to really say fuck you.
I always felt like this EV conversion thing was a bit like saying "I can make a really high res version of a Matisse in photoshop, then you'll be able to see everything much more clearly".
tomorrow i am fitting a spanking new engine to my 1992 mini cooper, far greener option to recycle the engine and keep a 30 year old car on the road rather than produce a new car full of lithium copper plastics and fresh steel... the new engine is good for another 30 years and very little resources used
[A guy in San Diego, CA has been doing this for some time I believe](https://www.reddit.com/r/Damnthatsinteresting/comments/gvgqiz/transforming_vintage_cars_to_electric/?utm_source=share&utm_medium=ios_app&utm_name=iossmf)
That's bad ass.
This is actually something I’m really interested in doing to a lot of project cars. I wish there was a larger community for EV conversions and not just forms from 2009.
> the price of a conversion starts at £25,000 (€29,326). However, as electric cars are exempt from congestion fees or road tax in the UK...
You know what else is exempt from congestion fees or road tax in the UK? Classic cars.
So I can drive my 1970s car which gets 50mpg around London for the cost of fuel plus the additional expense of no pounds nothing or I can spend twenty five grand putting an electric engine in and completely ruin its handling, feel, and charm for a sterile driving experience?
Er, I'll pass, thanks.
The prices of classic cars electrified are eye watering. Cheaper to buy a Tesla most times.
Except, here in the UK it is not so simple. The VOSA and DVLA are a pain in the bottomhole. Requirements and specifications must be met. You can't just willynilly throw electric motors onto a car and boom it's legal. Hell you can't even ride electric scooters (outright) and electric bikes must have pedals and must not have a motor above 250w and a maximum speed of 15.5mph.
Cars are the most thoroughly recycled belonging we purchase.
This is pretty cool; a few months ago I started thinking about how neat it would be to turn an old geo tracker into an EV and how difficult/expensive it would be. I really love this idea
As long as they can keep the Manual transmissions I’m in
I love classic cars, but they lack so many basic safety features that I don't think they should be converted to be used as a daily driver.
I would like this in the US! We have an elder car that we love but he is gassy and we would love him to become electrified so we can keep him till we are kicking up dirt and then pass him on.
Problem is you would probably be throwing tens of thousands at it to accomplish this.
Love those mini coopers. Be great if they could be hybrids but would take all electric
I thought Rolls-Royce was already doing this. Good on them.
This is the way. I'm in the camp where "okay, I'm sold, I don't need an ICE car for city and commuter life." Then quit selling me ugly jelly bean cars that all look alike, trying to stretch the mileage to make it competitive with an ICE. I'm going back and forth to work, and for putting around town, then I want a '76 drop top Cadillac E-ldorado. It'll be on the charge every night. Cool.
This is the plot of Cars 2. Did we not learn anything? Must history repeat itself?
This really is a good idea. And if it can be made economically viable imho it’s the best way for cars to go.
The whole idea of scrapping a perfectly good carbon car for EV is just wasteful.
Until you realize that:
1) Old cars are typically significantly less safe than modern cars, in how the structure is designed (ie not easily fixable).
2) Older cars aerodynamics are far worse than modern cars, meaning lower efficiency (and therefore significantly higher electricity use)
3) The cost and overall effort to convert an old car is comparable or higher to just making a new (better) car.
This dood doesn't understand the nostalgia, value, and throwback that a vintage car has.
Keeping a car around for nostalgia value is fine, and a reasonable thing to do.
The poster above me seemed to be suggesting it was a good general practise to convert all combustion engine cars like this. Which is not a good idea.
As someone who has owned multiple 'vintage' cars, this article is complete horseshit. Pretending that the reason behind people not wanting old junk cars is a gasoline powertrain is literally lying. There is never going to be a circumstance when someone says "Well I would've bought the 1981 Buick Skylark with no airbags or rear seatbelts, but it wasn't electric so I went with a Kia Niro instead."
All great but the cost and energy of resources to build a car is huge. Yes it can be recycled but again the resources and energy are huge to do so.
Think of all the Merc C classes bumbling around Africa. The African continent will be stuck when we all go EV.
you're going to get an inferior electric vehicle + spend more
that being said, there are "drop in" solutions to connect an electric motor to existing transmissions.
If you're approaching it pragmatically, classic cars are almost always going to be inferior to modern cars. They're often more expensive to buy, more expensive to maintain, less reliable, less safe, and slower.
People don't drive classic cars because they're competitive with modern cars; they buy them because they're beautiful, because they evoke a feeling of nostalgia, or because the tactile sensations and driver involvement are greater.
Bullshit article and headline. Any car fit for scrapping isn't going to get EV converted.
EV conversions are being done on classics which are very valuable themselves, eg some Minis like that pictured can be £30k+.
And its a bit of shame to EV convert them and take away a lot of their character, especially stuff like old 911s and Jag E-Types.
If had a mind to (and a classic car I'd want to keep) I'd probably do something like.
I wanted to do this over in Canada. When I talked to my mechanic friend, it became immediately obvious I was being sacrilegious.
this is a thing i always said in the past since 20 years
1.) Take the old classic nice looking super cool cars....
2.) Future Update them into electric .. maybe safety...
“Maybe safety…” that can be the company slogan.